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KING 4537; MAY 1952



Songs are meant to be OF their time, but as this demented project shows those songs also are asked to stand the test of time which is easier said than done.

Obviously styles change, certain instruments come in and out fashion as do vocal styles and production techniques, and so whether it’s the street corner harmonies of the mid-1950’s or the drum machines of the 1980’s, certain types of records wear their era on their sleeves.

When it comes to song topics and certain lyrics though the change might be a little more gradual and while the-then current cutting edge technology being sung or rapped about – (beepers in the early 90’s) – might seem antiquated in a few years time, the primary themes are still pretty relatable in most cases even if, by the Twenty-First Century for instance train travel is no longer nearly as commonplace as it seemed to be – at least in records – back in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.

But I’m guessing we’re nearing the stage where THIS song may soon leave people scratching their heads… and not just because the lyrics within are rather odd even for the time, but because the concept of a boy delivering newspapers now belongs to another time and place far removed from ours.

Then again, there’s another aspect to this record which sadly is all too pertinent in this day and age.


Throws ‘Em In The Morning, Throws ‘Em In The Evenin’ Too
Way back when… even before this record came along… every city block had a kid earning money hawking newspapers.

These “newsies” would stand there with a stack of papers, which came out in two editions then, morning and evening, and squawk something along the lines of “Getcha pay-pahs heeeeeere!” to attract passersby who wouldn’t view this as the obnoxious annoyance it’d be seen as today, but rather it was actually doing a service by announcing where you could get the news, which is something you wanted.

Of course you had to pay for this, pennies at the turn of the century (19th into 20th that is) before inflation set in and it cost a nickel, dime or eventually a whole quarter to learn about what’s happening in the world.

For those living in smaller towns the news was actually delivered right to your doorstep by what were known as paperboys and it’s here the image of a kid on a bicycle peddling around with a sack of newspapers over their shoulder throwing them on your doorstep, as you paid for them either at the end of the week or month, or maybe in advance and the kid would take a cut of the money.

I can’t imagine much being made this way, but apparently it was big business since it lasted for the better part of a hundred years… maybe longer.

Nowadays of course, while newspapers still technically exist, they’re mostly read online, which means an office computer or smart phone, and no kids are earning any money in the transaction. Don’t feel bad for the children though grandpa, they’re earning thousands more by profiting thru social media outlets while having a lot more fun without getting yelled at because they tossed a rolled up paper in your flower pots.

So all of that is to say that Newspaper Boy Blues is not a song that is going to have much relevance to those of us living in the present time, even if we faintly recognize the reference itself.

Then again, considering whose singing about trying to get the newsboy to sleep with her, maybe nobody in 1952 could make heads or tails of it either.


I Only Want To Love Him
Okay, first thing’s first, though the singer on this record is indeed named Tiny, it is not our friend Tiny Bradshaw. Instead it is the co-writer of the song, Tiny Kennedy.

And no, Tiny Kennedy is not a female, though he is playing the girl who is the protagonist here in what is the first example in rock song of female impersonators, a niche which may never comprise a large segment of the music but is a fascinating and underappreciated one historically.

WARNING: Anything you may read from here on in as of March 2023 might get you prosecuted in a dozen or more backwards states, since it involves men acting as – and perhaps dressing as – women. READ ANYWAY! Bonus points if you have an Adam’s Apple and are wearing high heels and lipstick while doing so.

If you weren’t able to actually see Jesse “Tiny” Kennedy, a large, square-shouldered man, singing like a female and instead merely listened to this record you might suspect something was unusual, but the joke aspect of it would be somewhat lost on you. Kennedy might not be entirely convincing but he sounds enough like a female using his falsetto to pass muster.

But since the humor of the song is designed to come from the visual aspect which is obviously lost here and even when he switches to the deep voiced male replies you only sense the appeal being denied you in witnessing him do the same thing on stage, it’s hard to fully appreciate. That said however, the concept is setting a good and interesting precedent that will come to fruition a few years down the line with the great Bobby Marchan (and to a lesser extent Jackie Shane).

Kennedy is playing a part and assuming a different identity in look, dress, mannerisms and voice and while hearing a man pretending to be horny female lusting after her paperboy on Newspaper Boy Blues might not be your idea of humor, or good music for that matter, it’s fairly easy to see the potential appeal in doing so.

The point of the song that we can’t quite figure out however has nothing to do with the role Kennedy is playing, but rather why this paperboy is described like a full grown man… and I do mean man, as he weighs over 300 pounds.

That’s the source of the non-visual humor and it’s admittedly not a laugh riot or anything, even when Kennedy switches to play his own boyfriend or husband who is indignant about her cheating on him with some fat kid on a bike earning a dollar twelve a week for throwing the paper through people’s plate glass windows.

Of course this was surely something that went over much better in person, because if Tiny had been an actual girl and sang the same lines about the newsboy “laying up in my hay” at night after delivering the papers, it wouldn’t really draw much interest.

But put him in a dress and have him act this way and it’s a creative twist to an otherwise mundane story, well performed by Kennedy who sounded nothing like this in full voice. For the Tiny we haven’t mentioned, Bradshaw that is, the band does the song no disservice here even if they don’t add much on their own, but considering this was basically an advertisement for their live gigs to build anticipation about seeing some crossdressing play acting mixed with your singing and dancing entertainment, we can’t say that Bradshaw didn’t know how to drum up some interest.


Ain’t No Man Can Beat Him
Because records are an audio rather than visual production, this technique which had a long history on stage, in Vaudeville and the Medicine Show revues of the first half of the Twentieth Century, never fully translated to recorded music outside of those few notable exceptions already mentioned.

But in 1952 America the sheer idea of this taking place wasn’t something that caused many sleepless nights, as Milton Berle still had one of the most popular shows on television and spent half of the airtime each week in drag. Irving Berlin, maybe the most revered songwriters ever and a champion of conservative Americanism, had one of his most famous plays This Is The Army featuring performers in drag. In other words it’s hardly worth getting up in arms about.

Yet because of the limitations of the format in that regard Newspaper Boy Blues is a better idea than a record, a niche concept that – like newspapers themselves – hasn’t quite endured.

The difference of course is that nobody is trying to block the publication of newspapers because they find the idea of them patently offensive to their sensibilities.

If Tiny Kennedy – or anybody working in drag – can’t find a receptive audience for their routine and fail to get more record deals, or nobody wants to buy tickets for their shows, that’s no different than someone who can’t sing at all or who plays bad songs having to find a new line of work. Simple market realities.

But somebody telling Jesse “Tiny” Kennedy he’ll face arrest or persecution for doing this kind of thing, and that no one even has a right to listen to or see perform, is something that only happens when government officials start pandering to illiterate voters who because they can’t read newspapers will take offense to songs praising those delivering these valued sources of information.

Surely all of this fallout couldn’t have happened as a result of a record that all of sixteen people heard in 1952.


(Visit the Artist pages of Tiny Bradshaw as well as Tiny Kennedy for the complete archive of their respective records reviewed to date)